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Washington State President Says Pac-12 Has One Media Partner Willing To Sign Now

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One Pac-12 school president says there is at least one media partner willing to sign a deal with the league right now — but there’s a problem.

And it actually has nothing to do with the Pac-12.

 

Washington State president Kirk Schulz spoke with a WSU regent, Enrique Cerna, for an interview posted on WSU’s YouTube page. Cerna is a former journalist.

During the conversation Schulz told Cerna that the partner in question wasn’t ready to ink the deal because of its own optics, not the Pac-12’s.

“I know at least one of the partners we were talking to said, ‘We’re ready to sign today, but the optics of us announcing that we’re laying off X number of people and we signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the Pac-12 are just not the best, so we’re going to have to wait six weeks,’” Schulz said.

Those optics are clearly something those potential partners are worried about, Schulz said.

Along with that is the softness of the sports media market at the moment.

“If you said when would be the worst time in the last six years to try and negotiate a media deal,” Schulz said, “probably the last five months is pretty close to the worst.”

The San Jose Mercury News narrowed the potential partners down to ESPN and Amazon. Both are dealing with layoffs of workforce at the moment.

ESPN and its parent company, Disney, has already had one round of layoffs at ESPN, with at least another round coming. Amazon is seeking to eliminate 9,000 jobs this spring by various means.

Schulz’s comment is interesting as it comes on the heels of dueling reports about ESPN’s interest in the Pac-12 rights package earlier this week.

 

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that ESPN was out on signing a deal with the Pac-12, while The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported hours later that ESPN was still interested.

Schulz also said that major media outlets are still interested in the Pac-12.

“We’ve continued to have those conversations with recognizable major media outlets,” he said. “They are very interested in the Pac-12. People have to remember … we occupy a coveted time slot (7:30 p.m. Pacific) where people need live sports content.”

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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